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A WINS for Warfighters

July 30, 2015  - By
The current WINS form factor (left) sits beside a prototype for the future incarnation.

The current WINS form factor (left) sits beside a prototype for the future incarnation.

The Evolution of the Warfighter Integrated Navigation System

A new device is being developed to enable foot soldiers to find their exact location in GPS-denied situations. If satellite signals are blocked by heavy jungle canopy, or because of enemy interference, soldiers — and Headquarters — will still know where they are with the Warfighter Integrated Navigation System (WINS).

WINS will be a compact, wearable navigation device capable of operating either as a standalone system or networked to distribute position location information to other soldier platforms. WINS will extend positioning capability for soldiers in environments where GPS is not available, reducing the effect of GPS interference and enabling integrity monitoring for trusted position reporting.

The technology behind WINS is being developed at the U.S. Army’s Communications Electronics Research Development and Engineering Center (CERDEC) labs. “WINS will be not just one technology; it’s a soldier-worn multi-sensor source incorporating information from GPS, inertials, vision-aided navigation, RF ranging, etc.,” explained John DelColliano, chief for CERDEC’s PNT Branch, which falls under CERDEC’s Command, Power and Integration Directorate (CP&I).

“All these will tie in to making a more robust navigation system, so if you’re in a situation where GPS fails, you can have other things to back you up.” For instance, inertial sensors will calculate an offset from the last-known GPS location using footsteps taken, speed, acceleration and time.

“The bottom line is that the soldier, without having to do any extra work on his own, will have a navigation system on his person that will provide him with a solution that he can count on when he needs it,” DelColliano said.

WINS is expected to help eliminate dependence on vulnerable commercial receivers. It will improve positioning in GPS-degraded environments, enduring some jamming and providing positioning indoors and in urban areas. It will enable soldier-based cooperative engagements and provide trusted dismounted soldier position through integration with Selective Availability Anti-Spoofing Module (SAASM) GPS receivers and redundant navigation sensors.

“CP&I’s PNT branch has worked on these individual technologies for many years, but we’ve always had the vision of an integrated solution,” DelColliano said. “That’s where we are today. It makes the most sense for what the soldier is going to need in the battlefield.” With a WINS-equipped solder, DelColliano said, “We’ll be able to know where he is and at what time, and we’ll be able to track if something happened to him. This capability will also enable our forces to be more mobile and maneuverable. It allows the commander and HQ to see where each squad is.”

As part of a technology demonstration program at Fort Dix, N.J., WINS is being developed under an incremental build process as researchers consider what functionality should be incorporated. The engineering specifications for WINS are expected to be transferred to Program Executive Office, Intelligence and Electronic Warfare & Sensors by 2017, and from there eventually be made available to soldiers.

Future WINS capabilities

The final version of the WINS will have the following capabilities:

  • Military GPS for a protected signal and anti-jam capability on the soldier.
  • Inertial measurement unit for soldiers to track their location.
  • RF ranging using a radio or radio-like device to communicate between soldier-worn nodes and determine the range between soldiers, computing positions through triangulation relative to GPS.
  • Vision-aided navigation using the same kind of camera as in a cell phone, which is ideal for SWaP-C (size, weight and power compliance), to help navigate by tracking the soldier’s motion through an environment.
  • Network-assisted navigation and GPS.
  • Chip-scale atomic clock.